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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Florence Nightingale

b. 1820, Florence, Italy; d. 1910, London

Florence Nightingale reformed hospital sanitation methods and otherwise set the standards for modern nursing, in the process making it a respectable occupation for women. Against her parents’ wishes, she trained as a nurse in Germany in 1851, then accepted the post of superintendent at the London Institute for the Care of Sick Gentlewomen in 1853. With the outbreak of the Crimean War (1854–56), Nightingale and a staff of thirty-eight volunteer nurses, all women trained by her, were sent to Scutari (modern Üsküdar, Turkey), where they sanitized the hospital and equipment, reorganized patient care, and after about six months of continual improvements, achieved a sharp reduction in mortality rates. Arriving back in Britain in 1857 to a hero’s welcome, she helped to establish the Royal Commission on the Health of the Army and worked closely with it on a detailed statistical report that led to a major overhaul of army military care as well as the establishment of an Army Medical School and a comprehensive system of record keeping. In 1860, she founded the Nightingale Training School at St. Thomas’ Hospital, now called the Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery, part of King’s College, London.